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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Ritchie|
|Produced by||Richard Gregson|
|Written by||James Salter|
Karl Michael Vogler
|Music by||Georges Delerue|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||101 minutes|
|Box office||$1,925,000 (US/ Canada rentals)1|
Dave Chappelet is a self-centered, ambitious ski racer from Idaho Springs, Colorado with an outside chance of making the U.S. Olympic team.
He joins the team in mid-season in Europe, and immediately clashes with the team's head coach, Eugene Claire, as well as the more experienced teammates. The ego-driven Chappelet complains about his assigned race positions and shows little interest in team success or morale.
After a couple of strong downhill performances that make him a rising contender, a ski equipment manufacturer begins to seek Chappelet's endorsement and his assistant Carole takes a romantic interest in him, which may or may not be sincere.
Chappelet becomes the U.S. team's best hope after top downhiller Johnny Creech is injured in a pre-Olympic race. Claire doesn't like counting on Chappelet, but a great deal is at stake and Chappelet delivers the race of his life winning the gold medal at the Olympics.
Lots of good World Cup ski racing action, leading to an exciting climax at the Winter Olympics. The winter scenes were filmed on location in the Alps, mostly in January 1969. Prominently featured are the Lauberhorn at Wengen, Switzerland, and the Hahnenkamm at Kitzbühel, Austria. Also included were Megève, France and St. Anton, Austria.
The suspected inspiration for the lead character in the film was a composite of Spider Sabich and Billy Kidd. Sabich, a young and attractive Californian, finished fifth in the slalom at the 1968 Olympics, at age 22. Kidd was a U.S. Ski Team veteran from Vermont who won the silver medal in the slalom at the 1964 Olympics at age 20. Those close to Sabich remember him as much more positive and easy-going than Redford's character, Dave Chappellet. While Kidd was more aloof than Sabich, he too was more light-hearted (and had a much better sense of humor) than Chappellet.
- "Big Rental Films of 1970", Variety, 6 January 1971 p 11
- Downhill Racer at the Internet Movie Database
- Sports Illustrated - "How to Succeed in Racing Without Really Racing" - 24-Nov-1969
- Roger Ebert - review of Downhill Racer - 22-Dec-1969
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